Things look brighter
for Riviera Holdings

Mar 13, 2007 3:11 AM

Improved operating results during the fiscal fourth quarter that ended on Dec. 31, 2006, helped Riviera Holdings Corporation (RIV) reduce its net loss to $1.6 million or $0.13 per share from last year’s $3.8 million or $0.32 per share.

Income from operations was $25.4 million, an increase of $3 million or 13.5% over last year and a record for the company. Total net revenues were $46.5 million or $300, 000 higher than in 2005.

Casino and room revenues in Las Vegas exceeded last year but were brought down by losses in Black Hawk, Colo., due to snow storms in Denver during the period.

"At the Riviera," pointed out Bob Vannucci, president of Riviera Las Vegas, "our occupancy for the year ended Dec. 31, 2006 was 92.2% and consistent with the same period in 2005. However, our revenue per available room rate for 2006 was $72.37 compared to $66.51 in 2005, an 8.8 percent increase.

"Our average daily win per slot unit increased for the fourth quarter of 2006 to $131.67 compared to $97.48 in the fourth quarter of 2005," he said.

The property was expected to see improved customer count with the closing last fall of the nearby Stardust Hotel/Casino where Boyd Gaming Corp. (BYD) plans a $4 billion development.

Analysts said that in light of the recent announced sale of the Sahara Hotel/Casino on the northern end of the Las Vegas Strip, that valued the real estate at a number higher than $20 million per acre, it was expected that there might be renewed interest in the purchase of the Riviera property. Two previous bids for the property were subsequently rejected by the shareholders.

Scientific Games

Scientific Games Corporation (SGMS), the country’s largest lottery and gaming systems maker, saw its fourth quarter earnings decline, primarily due to stock-based compensation expenses and employee termination expenses, according to a recent announcement.

On an adjusted basis, the company earned $24 million or $0.25 per share during the fourth quarter. This was two cents higher than the $0.23 per share expected by a consensus of analysts.

Net income for the quarter was $7.9 million or $0.08 per share, down from last year’s $10.4 million or $0.11 per share in 2005. For the year, net income was $66.6 million or $0.70 per share, down from the $75.3 million or $0.81 per share reported for 2005.

During a conference call, the company reported it had restructured existing business and had added new business so that it expected both revenue growth and margin improvement.

Magna Entertainment

Magna Entertainment Corp. (MECA), the company formed by Canadian auto parts magnate and prominent horse breeder Frank Stronach a half-dozen years ago, continued its losing ways, although at a reduced level, during the fourth quarter of fiscal 2006.

The company reported a loss of $12.5 million or $0.12 per share compared with a loss of $39.7 million or $0.37 per share a year ago.

The experience was substantially better than analysts had estimated. A consensus had place the expected loss at $0.34 per share.

Revenue for the period rose 8% to $132.9 million.

For the fiscal year, the company said its loss has narrowed to $87.4 million or $0.81 per share compared with a loss of $105.3 million or $0.98 per share in 2005.

The company recently announced a partnership with Chuchill Downs Inc. (CHDN) in the simulcasting operations of their many racetracks in the U.S. and Canada. The partnership also is among the half-dozen bidders for the operating franchise of New York State’s premier thoroughbred racetracks.